From the August 2002 issue of Startups

Like many college students, when Joe Keeley finished his freshman year at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, he set about finding a summer job. A former hockey coach, the business major found a perfect fit when he was hired by a family with two active young boys. "They were into hockey and golf and baseball and everything under the sun," says the 21-year-old. "I was a hockey player and a golfer and kids interested me, so I took a job being their nanny for the summer."

During that summer, Keeley met with other families in need of supervision for their busy kids. "They thought it was great that a college guy could be with their kids in the summer, because [the kids are] so active and they're looking for someone who can relate to them--but also the maturity level is there," explains Keeley.

Seeing such a great need in his community, in February 2001 Keeley began meeting with families and students, launching College Summer Nannies Inc. to find the best match between the needs and skills of each. His company acts as a placement service, connecting families with students, but does not employ any nannies.

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His first year, Keeley placed nannies with 12 families; this year he has 17 nannies working. Keeley conducts interviews in the spring for placement in the summer, but some of his nannies end up working with their families year-round. "They build that relationship with the kids and the family, and that's encouraged," he says. "Sometimes [they] do extra tutoring or whatever the family may need."

In addition to being a full-time student and running his business from a home office and space on campus, Keeley is still a nanny himself. "This is my third summer with the same family," he says. "It helps me get perspective on placing people, because I've done it for three years."

This fall Keeley will begin his senior year at the University of St. Thomas. While he would like to keep his business alive beyond his graduation, Keeley is unsure of what his future role with the company will be. Because of the seasonality of College Summer Nannies, Keeley says he might be able to run the business in conjunction with another business or job, or possibly hand it down to another college student or hire some interns to help him work on it while he pursues other things. "I'm definitely going to have it continue," he says, "because it's a need and I think it's a neat niche."